Words Do Matter
The past year has been challenging for the human service sector, culminating in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act signed into law by the President on December 22. The new tax provisions promise to significantly alter the way nonprofits raise the funds they require to serve their constituencies and continue to strengthen our communities and, thus, the very fabric of American life. As many as 90% fewer tax filers will be itemizing deductions and the incentive for wealthy individuals to donate to nonprofits to avoid higher estate taxes will disappear. Moreover, in the coming year there will be pressure on Congress to reduce funds for a broad range of health and human services, including Medicaid and Medicare. Consequently, the number of people and the extent of need are both likely to increase and place even more demand on the nonprofit human service sector.
This is our predicament. It’s not new, although more intense. We also have solutions. We know how to address many of society’s greatest problems and, with the necessary resources, we can continue to drive and enhance the solutions that will build each person’s opportunities to reach their full potential. But, we have to be able to tell our story in a way that resonates with the public and the policymakers so those resources are made available.
For the human service sector, the most effective messaging is shaped by our National Reframing Human Services Initiative. Times may be tough, but we must resist the inclination to chastise policy makers, use crisis language, and blame the victim. Words and context are critical. Tell the story of your work through the Building Well-Being narrative, and together we can ensure that all our communities may reach their full potential.
Lee Sherman, President & CEO